Apple has been granted exemption from foreign ownership laws, giving the company the ability to control 100% of operations in the United Arab Emirates, Bloomberg reports, citing two anonymous sources familiar with the matter. As a result, Apple will open two stores in the country.
Since the last roadblock has now been removed, Apple will enter with full force into the U.A.E. and open its first store in Dubai this year, followed by another in Abu Dhabi scheduled for next year, the sources say.
A new foreign investment law that allows 100% foreign ownership is under development, but until it becomes official local regulations require businesses operating in the United Arab Emirates to be 51% owned by Emiratis or a company wholly owned by them, unless they are based in free zones.
“Apple was licensed in the U.A.E. through the Ministry of Economy according to the requirements of, and in compliance with the Commercial Companies Law, as well as the ministerial resolution on foreign company branches,” Ahmad Al-Hosani, director of trade registration at the Ministry of Economy, said in an e-mailed statement.
Smartphone adoption is currently estimated at 61% of the 17 million active mobile subscriptions in the United Arab Emirates. By the way, the iPhone 5s was the most popular handset in the country in Q4 of 2014.
The news comes a year after Apple CEO Tim Cook was spotted in the country, where he met UAE Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and other officials to discuss a variety of issues.